Located on a relatively modest plot of just under 350 square metres, the 200-square-metre two-storey timber home takes up less than 40 per cent of the site. “The garden featured extensively in the brief (designed by MUD Office) and they wanted as much outdoor space as possible,” says Atic, who also used timber as a reminder of the early 20th century timber home it was replacing. “That house belonged to one of the owner’s grandparents. And although it was in the family for decades, it required far too much work to renovate,” he adds.
So rather than a standard concrete driveway, there’s a gentle ramp/planter bed that meets the front picket fence. This ramp also doubles as a roof for the workshop/store room adjacent to the brick paved undercroft. When more space is required in the workshop, it can be easily extended by simply opening up the door to the carport. And in inclement weather, the children can still be outdoors, with this space also offering flexibility, including outdoor dining.
Even though the family generally enters the home through the laundry and mud room adjacent to the kitchen, there’s also a more formal approach for visitors, entering through the dining area that forms part of the open plan kitchen and living area. And to strengthen the connection to the garden, built-in day beds, one adjacent to the formal entrance and another bordering the kitchen and orientated to the rear garden, provide additional seating, as well as simply places to read or chill out.
One of the challenges facing the architects was the long band of two-storey walk-up apartments along the eastern boundary. To make these less of a focus, the home’s rear elevation features a double-height void over the living room, with an external timber-slatted awning to deflect the view and create privacy. Likewise, automated timber screens are a feature of the front western façade, framing the main bedroom. “Here, we wanted to diffuse the afternoon sunlight but also create privacy from those strolling by,” says Atic.
Although the Pop-Up house is relatively modest in scale, there are four bedrooms upstairs, including the main with its walk-in dressing area and ensuite, together with the two children’s bedrooms and a shared bathroom. A guest bedroom that can be also used as a parents’ retreat completed the accommodation, together with a study nook located within the ‘bridge’ that separates the parents from the children’s bedrooms. And while there’s an outdoor terrace with a floor made from rope, this is generally used by the children and their friends, with beanbags often dotted across this space. “It’s quite safe, but probably not for the faint-hearted,” says Atic.
Given the size of the site, with its elongated dimensions, FIGR designed a long galley-style kitchen along the home’s northern edge. Simply detailed with green laminate joinery complementing the silver ash timber (for the ceiling and birch ply joinery), there’s a sense of informality that hits the spot for a growing family. And although it stands apart from its neighbours, it does pick up on the surrounding textures, including the rough brick wall of a neighbouring Victorian home. “We wanted to make this wall a feature of the site rather than rendering it and making it something that it wasn’t,” says Atic, pointing out the recycled bricks, with the raw edges to the garden beds.
When basement car parks are now taking over our streets, it’s uplifting to see a house that takes a different approach. And rather than a hermetically sealed property with a high front fence, this new home activates the street and literally throws open its doors.